So about three weeks ago, I post my previous entry to this blog. It’s all about how stress sucks and how I don’t handle stress very well. This was on a Saturday. It was my 100th post, and I planned on following it up with a 100th postaversary celebration, but you’re getting this instead.
Monday rolls around, and I get a phone call from my dad (one of my three regular readers) who says that his Norton is telling him he can get a virus if he goes to my site. I’m at work, so I don’t really have time to look at whatever the issue is (and I’m thinking in the back of my head that it’s probably just something screwy with Norton… or my dad). Throughout the day, I hear from the other two people who read this blog and they both tell me that my blog is apparently an “Attack Site”.
Sure enough, every time I tried going to my site on any browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox), I’m getting a message that my computer can get a virus my visiting my blog!?! CRAP!
Alright, so I start griping to anyone who will listen about hackers and their ilk who have fun making other peoples’ lives living hells for no apparent reason. I am of the conviction that all practitioners of cyber-terror (spammers, hackers, identity thieves, etc.) should be publicly executed… with stones. You know, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery-style. I may actually toss a stone or two myself. I bet you have some world-wide televised public stonings and the rate of cyber terror will drop drastically. Just saying.
So anyway, my boss overhears me bitching about some jackwad hiding a link to a malicious site in my code, and he takes it upon himself to remove the link. See, I don’t know anything about coding or PHP or HTML or any of that crap. I use WordPress because I’m not supposed to know about how to do that coding crap with WordPress. Thank goodness I have a cool boss 🙂
I’m all good now, right? The code is gone and my blog is once again safe. I figure I’m all in the clear. Except, I’m not. Because now I have to request that Google re-review my site to confirm that the bad stuff is gone. See, many of the reporting sites that different browsers and whatnot rely on to determine if a site is safe to go to rely on Google for their information. Googlebot is a web crawler, or “spider”, which scours the Internet looking for new web sites… and searching existing web sites for dangers to Google’s users. So, unless you can prove to Google that your site is clean and safe after it has been ruled compromised, a lot of potential visitors are going to get a warning page when they try to visit your site.
This is all well and good. I want to be protected when I visit sites, so I really didn’t have any issues with any of this. Where my issue comes into play is with proving to Google that I own my web site. This was not an easy task.
Google gives you like four different methods to prove you own your site. One requires inserting some “meta” doohickie into a certain position in your sites code. Well… that was out, because, like I wrote earlier, I don’t know nothing ’bout no stinking code.
Another method involved copying some HTML thingamagiggee into some section of your site on the server… blah blah blah. Again… HTML… not happening.
A third option for proving that I owned my site was by adding a DNS record to my domain’s configuration by signing into the domain register and… you’ve got to be freaking kidding me. Isn’t there an app for my Droid that I can just download… or maybe a button on Facebook I can click?
The final option is linking your web site to a Google Analytics account. HOORAY! I have a Google Analytics account, and I use it to monitor my web site. I figure this is going to be easy, right? Yeah, wrong. I try using that method and I come to the realization that I must not have the required asynchronous snippet in my tracking code. What exactly is an asynchronous snippet? Well, I looked it up, and I still have no idea. If I could figure out what a freaking asynchronous snippet was, I’d probably know how to add a DNS record to my domain’s configuration. FOR CRYING OUT LOVE OF PETE!
Alright, so I figure I’ll just contact Google and see if they can help me. HAHAHA! Did you read that? “Contact Google.” Exactly how stupid am I? Apparently, very stupid. One does not “contact” Google. Period. Seriously, go to Google’s web site and click on “contact us” on the bottom of the page. There is no way to actually “contact” anyone. There is no phone number, no email addresses, no mailing address… just recommendations to go to different forums and blogs and crap. When I first went to “contact” Google, they recommended that the fastest way to resolve my issue was to search their forums. Have you ever searched a forum? There is absolutely nothing fast about searching a forum for ANYTHING!
Okay, so I’m way past the point of literally pulling the hair out of my head. There are still hairs lodged in between the keys on my laptop’s keyboard. I figure “screw this, I’m done!”
“Oh, but it’s not fair to ask that Google have live people to help nincompoops like you,” says the tech geek who thinks I’m an idiot. “They are much too large of a company with way too many interests. Do you know how many calls they’d get and email they would have to respond to?”
Seriously?!? Google is a multi-billion dollar corporation. Their stock sells for like $600/ share. $600 PER SHARE! Yes, I just yelled it at you. You mean to tell me they can’t afford a customer service center… or 20?
Anywho, I gave up on the whole blogging thing. Figured it was supposed to be a way to relieve stress, not create stress. I was done with the whole thing. And every day I would try to visit the site and see that stupid warning page, and I’d get more and more pissed off. And I’d try to research a way to get the whole -prove-ownership-to-Google-thing accomplished. And I’d learn a little and get really frustrated and pissed-off, and I’d give up again. Lather, rinse, repeat… for almost 10 days.
Funny thing is, if I used Microsoft Internet Explorer, I could get to the site just fine… no warnings. Apparently Microsoft (and Norton, and McAfee, and all other leading anti-viruses) knew the bad code had been removed from my site and was a safe place to visit. Google (and Firefox… who relies on Googlebot) apparently has no problem listing my site as dangerous, but don’t apparently have the advanced kind of technology that allows them to periodically revisit sites it has condemned to see if anything has changed.
“But that’s you’re responsibility as the site owner,” says the Google advocate. I’m gonna have to call BS on that. Google, on the warning page, stated that they had contacted the site owner to let them know the site had been found malignant. I received no notification from anyone other than my dad and his Norton. They didn’t contact anyone… they just made a decision to make my site appear dangerous to much of the online community (which I understand)… even after it was fixed (which is inexcusable). Google has a crap-ton of power over the Internet. You could almost call it the “Googlenet.”
As we learned from Spider-Man:
With great power comes great responsibility.
It would take very little for Google to make the entire “review” process for corrupted web sites much easier (maybe even automate it)… and that would be showing “great responsibility.” Hell… if some random stranger wants to have my little stinking blog reviewed… I say, “Have at it!” Why does one have to prove ownership to have a web site reviewed?
Anyway, after 10 days of short bouts of learning… intermixed with long periods of full-on rage… I finally figured out how to FTP some HTML to the server I use to prove my ownership… and I got a clean review from Google. What exactly did I just write? You’ve got me. I did it once, and if I ever have to do it again, I may end-up bald!